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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fire dept blames govt for Mantralaya blaze Prelim Report Mum On Cause Of Inferno

Mumbai : Even as chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of sabotage in the devastating fire that engulfed Mantralaya on June 21, a preliminary report submitted by municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte is completely silent on the cause of fire. 
    In the 17-page report submitted to Chavan, the fire brigade failed to specify the cause of fire but squarely blamed the government for inordinate delay in informing it that led to the fire spreading all over Mantralaya. "There was huge delay in informing the fire brigade. Our team did reach the spot immediately but it was too late, since the entire fourth floor was engulfed with fire. Even the fourth, fifth and sixth floors were on blaze," a senior official said. 

    The report said that the fire spread very fast as highly combustible wooden material was used for cabin partitions with flammable varnish and polish coats. Also, haphazard storage of large quantity of papers and files in all cabins and on all floors and combustible material without fire break in all wings of the building enabled the fire to spread. It also spread from high wind velocity due to close vicinity of sea, no access to fire vehicles for fire-fight
ing operation from the open space in the centre of the main building, unauthorized parking in the open space around Mantralaya, traffic jams on roads leading to Mantralaya, non-working of inbuilt fire righting system and heavy down draft of rotor fan of helicopter, which was called for search and rescue operations. 
    On the delay in rescue operation, the report said there was no initial information about trapped persons inside the building. Narrow access roads within the premises, 
overhead hanging cable and water pipes and lack of space to deploy jacks of specialised and low-cage capacity of the snorkel also made it difficult. 
    On the charge that inadequate number of vehicles was deployed to contain fire, the report said as per the standard operating procedure, maximum number of fire engines, water tankers and other vehicles were dispatched on brigade call with the proper coverage for other emergencies. 
    On inbuilt fire-fighting system, the report said Mantralaya has only dry riser sys
tem and initially, the local fire personnel and maintenance department did not start the fire pump. Also, the emergency power supply of the fire pump was shut down, the nozzle of the hose reels were missing, while landing valves of the riser were under lock and key. The fire pump was not on auto mode and local fire personnel did not know how to operate it. 
    "As the inbuilt fire-fighting system was inoperative, it was carried out by the resources available with the brigade," the official said. 


June 21, 2:46pm | First call to fire brigade 2:47pm | Fire brigade officials arrive 2:49pm | Request for 4 fire engines 2:50pm | Fire engines arrive2:54pm | First message for more fire engines 3pm | Second message for 4 more engines 
3:02pm | Another message for 4 additional engines, a total of 12 fire engines 3:04pm | Message for 4 more fire engines 3:05pm | Rescue begins, 5-6 persons rescued 3:25pm | 55 persons trapped on 5th and 6th floors rescued with the help of snorkels 3:29pm | Another snorkel deployed for rescue on the west side 3:50pm | 6-7 persons trapped on terrace, who retrieved the national flag, rescued 4:04pm | Chief fire office requests for maximum number of fire engines, water tankers and other fire-fighting equipment 4:12pm | Other fire services told to help 4:13pm | Fire-fighting operation continues on fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors on all sides with 11 water lines from inside and 6 water monitor jets from outside June 22, 5pm | Fire brought under control 9:15pm | Fire-fighting exercise finally ends 
Presence of highly combustible material, LPG cylinders on upper floors 
Non-working of inbuilt fire-fighting sytem 
Lack of access to firefighting vehicles 
Draft of rotor fan of helicopter used for search and rescue operations 
Narrow spaces hampered rescue operations 
Fire pump was not on auto mode, local personnel didn't know how to operate it 
High velocity wind due to close vicinity to the sea


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